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CSLB Press Release - 01/31/13

Contractors State License Board Busts Two in Kings County Who Should Have Known Better

Two former licensees among 10 caught in undercover sting contracting without a license


SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) consistently warns consumers about the importance of only hiring state-licensed contractors to work in and around their homes. A sting conducted this week in Hanford (Kings County) highlights why consumers need to verify license information before hiring a contractor.

Two of 10 people who showed up at an undercover sting conducted by CSLB’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT), in partnership with the Kings and Tulare County District Attorney’s offices, used to be licensed contractors.

Jeffrey Donald Brewer’s contractor license (#900476) expired in July 2011, after being suspended in November 2010 for failure to pay a $2,500 court judgment. CSLB also cited Brewer twice after that (8/16/2012 and 1/24/2013) with $7,500 in associated penalties for illegal activities. The first of those citations included a Stop Order, (Business and Professions Code section 7127), prohibiting Brewer from using employee labor for any jobs until he secured a workers’ compensation insurance policy. After bidding more than $2,200 for a job at the January 30, 2013 sting, Brewer received a series of notices to appear (NTA) in Superior Court and now will face misdemeanor criminal charges for:

The second former licensee caught yesterday was Robert Edward Grunwald. He had a CSLB license (#552207) from 1988 until 2002. Grunwald received an NTA for contracting without a license and illegal advertising (Business and Professions Code section 7027.1).

In total, 10 people gave bids at the sting house near Hidden Valley Park for various painting, tree service, and landscaping jobs. All received NTAs for contracting without a license. Seven will face an illegal advertising charge. Six requested bids higher than the amount allowed by law. Four were issued Stop Orders (Business and Professions Code section 7127), prohibiting them from using employee labor for any jobs until they secure a workers’ compensation insurance policy.

“Consumers are putting themselves at huge risk if they hire an unlicensed contractor to work in or around their home,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “It pays to invest a few minutes on CSLB’s website to make sure the person they hire is properly licensed.”

The following suspects are scheduled to be arraigned at 8:15 a.m. on March 27, 2013, in Kings County Superior Court, 1426 South Drive, Hanford (Map):


SUSPECT'S NAME

BUSINESS NAME

CITY OF RESIDENCE

LICENSE CLASSIFICATION
VIOLATIONS
Jeffrey Donald Brewer

Jeff Brewer Concrete

Hanford

C8 - Concrete Contracting without a license,

Requesting excessive down payment,

Violation of Stop Order,

No workers' compensation insurance

Ruperto Alcala

Hacienda Tree and Landscape

Visalia

C27 - Landscaping

C61/D49 - Tree Service

Contracting without a license,

Illegal advertising,

Stop Order issued,

No workers' compensation insurance

James Steven Wilkinson

Handyman Service

Lemoore

C33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,

Illegal advertising,

Stop order issued,

No workers' compensation insurance

Robert Edward Grunwald Jr.

Bob Grunwald Consulting Arborist

Hanford

C61/D49 - Tree Service Contracting without a license,

Illegal advertising

Francisco Villasenor Leon

Hanford

C33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,

Illegal advertising,

Requesting excessive down payment

David Perez Hernandez Jr.

B&D Concrete Services

Hanford

C8 - Concrete Contracting without a license,

Illegal advertising,

Stop Order issued,

No workers' compensation insurance

Gerald Lee Johnson

Hanford

C8 - Concrete Contracting without a license,

Illegal advertising,

Requesting excessive down payment,

Stop Order issued

Jose Luis Bonilla

Coalinga

C33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,

Requesting excessive down payment

Michael John Quesada

Coalinga

C33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,

Requesting excessive down payment

Salvador Garcia

Hanford

C33 - Painting and Decorating Contracting without a license,

Illegal advertising,

Requesting excessive down payment


CSLB urges consumers to follow these tips before hiring anyone to work on their property:

  • Hire only state-licensed contractors and ask to see their license and a photo ID to verify their identity.
  • Always check the license number at CSLB's website, or www.CheckTheLicenseFirst.com to make sure the license is in good standing, and that employees are covered by workers' compensation insurance.
  • Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment. There is an exception for about two dozen licensees who carry special bonds to protect consumers. These exceptions are noted on CSLB's website.
  • Don't pay in cash, and don't let payments get ahead of the work.
  • Get at least three bids, check references, and get a written contract with signed change orders for any additions or amendments to the contract.

The Contractors State License Board licenses and regulates California's 300,000 contractors, operating under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. It is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2011-12, CSLB helped recover nearly $36 million in ordered restitution for consumers. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on CSLB's website or by calling (800) 321-CSLB (2752). You also can sign up to receive automatic CSLB email alerts.